Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How do we get fair?

La Shawn Barber has some good comments about the black firefighter who set up a phony racial hate incident. I'm so glad she said this stuff, because as a white male, I can't (not and be heard). But with her starting this, I'm going to jump on board with some random comments of my own. (See her comments, and those of her readers, including mine. Excellent reading!)

This incident has evoked a lot of heat and little light, as usual. One issue coming up again is the pressure on local fire protection agencies to hire more minorities, with the usual debate over "dumbing down" the tests. This has already long ago been settled in enlightened jurisdictions. I'm only going to address one sub-issue, "job-relatedness".

EEOC standards/guidelines/case law say that a test which yields an imbalance along racial lines must be "job-related" (and if the employer can establish that, the imbalance is permissible). (My view is that job-relatedness is important whether there's an imbalance issue or not.) The job-relatedness question is, using firefighters as an example, does the testing process for becoming a firefighter accurately predict who will perform satisfactorily as an actual firefighter?
Does a firefighter need to read and write well and take written tests well? Not all that much.
Does a firefighter need to be able to instantly comprehend and obey verbal orders? Yes.
Does a firefighter need to be able to climbing many flights of stairs while wearing 35 lbs of protective gear, breathing through a mask, and carrying a hosepack? Yes.

Okay, then the test should focus on these latter skills and others, not on paper testing. If the test is job-related, it's fair, and you get the best candidates.

Then, let the qualified get the jobs. (Mr. or Ms. Activist, if you're needing to be rescued from a burning building, do you want to see the best possible firefighters or a "correct" racial representation chosen by Affirmative Action?)

(Just a thought: Affirmative Action is racist in that it deprives the minority person of achieving on his own merit, of truly succeeding. If he makes it, he and everyone else gives the credit to AA.)

Second issue I have thoughts about: To the thinking employer, there are only two kinds of people in this world, good workers and unsatisfactory workers. Period. But there continues to be pressure to label people into groups. And there are, in various quarters, organizations of black ___ workers or hispanic ___ workers, etc. Does that mean I can start a group of white ___ workers? And can somebody please, PLEASE, explain to me how being black, white, "or periwinkle" has anything at all to do with your job [unless you're an actor playing, say, Kunta Kinte]?)

I am SO TIRED of "groups". I believe there is nothing more racist and segregating than "multiculturalism", which is taking us two giant steps backward, back to stereotyping, labeling by race, and dividing us into "us" and "them". I believe this is the root of rising racial incidents on the most "liberal' college campuses.

And BTW, I don't think it's a coincidence that there's a rising hatred of whites in the ghetto. You hear the rhetoric long enough (and have "issues" of your own, e.g. lack of skills, lack of responsibility, lack of respect for authority), you begin to believe that you have cause to hate.

(My daughter was in a classroom discussion in middle school wherein a black girl asserted, "All whites hate blacks." My daughter answered, "That's not true. I'm white and I don't hate blacks, so that proves not all whites hate blacks." That about sums it up.)

(BTW, my kids all went to public school where 80% of the students were non-white. They got pretty good educations and also learned how to relate with the people who are actually out there in the real world. They had friends "without regard to race, religion, or creed" [where'd that concept ever go to?], and still do. A pretty good education if you ask me.)

(See my separate post about Oprah and Obama, and politics of race generally.)

This incident has also generated more shouting about "hate crimes". I just can't comprehend "hate crimes" as a legal definition. If you murder someone, can you do it without hate? If you hate for reasons other than race is it not still hate? If you vandalize someone's (or "nobody's") property, is that not a product of hate of some kind? If you commit an armed robbery, is it a hate crime, or only if the victim is "a protected minority"? Where do we place gang conflict? Okay, Supreme Court, that's your assignment for the next decade--or century!

And finally, a word or three to the various "advocates": Ladies and gentlemen, PLEASE don't keep telling "your people" they have rights and entitlements when you got where you are by (weird but true) actually working for it. PLEASE don't keep telling "your people" that they're victims of discrimination when you know full well that you achieved despite REAL racism, the likes of which just don't exist anymore, not even in Jena (where back in your youth the black kids would have been strung up for merely going under the whites' tree and nothing would ever have been said about it). Ladies and gentlemen, you're not advocates, you're inciters.

An incident which makes this "then and now" clear: When I was volunteering at my son's elementary school, I was writing tardy slips one morning when this student came in even later than the bulk of the tardies. When I asked him his last name, he answered, "Robinson, just like Jackie Robinson." I sure didn't let that get by!

"No, you're nothing like Jackie Robinson! He didn't come to school late; he came on time or early, and he always worked hard. Back then there was discrimination--I mean real discrimination. Jackie Robinson had to work harder than all the whites to do as well. And he worked so hard and got to be so good that even though the major leagues didn't want blacks, he was so good that they had to have him. No, you're nothing like Jackie Robinson. But you can be like him. Start coming to school on time and doing your work. You won't have to fight discrimination like he did, but you WILL have to succeed by working for it."

How about it, advocates? How about telling it like that, telling it like it [really] is?

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